We're fast approaching the November release of Pokémon Sword and Shield, and in the latest issue of Game Informer magazine, Game Freak has spilled the beans on many features players will find in the next generation of Pokémon. More information will be released in the near future, but for now, let's go over some highlights.
Several quality-of-life features are being added to Sword and Shield. Most promisingly, we're finally getting an autosave feature. Players can choose to have the game regularly save their progress in the background after performing various actions, such as performing a trade. The option to save the game manually will still be present, of course.
Pokémon will have experience points divvied up evenly among the entire party after battle by default: the optional Experience Share item has been removed. HMs (or Hidden Machines) also won't be making a comeback, thankfully: according to Game Freak, HM-styled abilities wouldn't mesh with the greater level of freedom afforded by Sword and Shield's Wild Area.
During E3 2019, we learned about Sword and Shield's Max Raid Battles, which as many fans suspected drew their inspiration from the raid battles in Pokémon Go. According to the games' director, Shigeru Ohmori, "I think there was some influence like how in Pokémon Go, you don't need to be a hardcore battler to enjoy the raid battles. It's really easy to invite a friend. We wanted to have that element in Sword and Shield's raid encounters as well." These will still be challenging fights, however: Max Raid Battles are ranked by stars that indicate the difficulty level of the battle. While Game Freak was unable to elaborate further, they did say that there would be mechanics in play that would allow players to make their favorite Pokémon (such as their starter) more competitively viable, as well.
There are also going to be a whopping 18 Gyms in Sword and Shield, a first for the series. The Gyms in the Galar Region are split between a Major league and a Minor league, with which gyms are in which league differing between the versions.
Of course, Game Freak had to address the elephant in the room: the National Dex "controversy" that arose in the wake of E3 2019. Junichi Masuda offered some more insight into why the entire Pokédex wouldn't be making the cut in Sword and Shield: basically, the company wants to focus on new gameplay ideas. "Up until now, we've been proud we've been able to include so many Pokémon in the games, but as a result of that, there's actually been quite a few features or gameplay ideas that we've had to abandon in the past," says Masuda. According to Masuda, there's more exciting features in Sword and Shield that have yet to be revealed. The Pokémon featured in the game were selected based on a number of factors, including popularity or whether they fit into the Galar Region's sensibilities. Additionally, more Pokémon will be made available in future games, and will be transferable via the yet-to-be-released Pokémon Home service.
Pokémon Sword and Shield will hit the Nintendo Switch on November 15th. Stay tuned to RPGFan for more info.